By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
Listeners of the Around The NFL Podcast will almost instinctively recite the one truth they know about Kai Forbath: “Kai’s Kai.”
But Vikings fans can’t be as certain about the kicker as their team returns to the playoffs this weekend for the first time since another boot’s blunder sent them home shocked.
It’s been not one, but two kickers who have taken promising seasons and jettisoned them into oblivion with wide-left kicks in the final moments of Vikings playoff games. The first — Gary Anderson’s only miss after a perfect regular season — gave Atlanta new life and eventually robbed Minnesota of what seemed to be a surefire Super Bowl berth. The second — Blair Walsh‘s hook shot in the final 30 seconds of a 10-9 wild-card loss in a frigid outdoor game in Minneapolis — sunk the Vikings in what was headed toward becoming a memorable postseason win.
Understandably, Vikings fans have become jaded when it comes to the team’s fortunes, starting with the guy in charge of creating points with his foot. Forbath isn’t letting that get to him.
“If I trust my swing and watch my foot hit the ball,” Forbath said, via the Star Tribune, “typically good things happen.”
Forbath is dealing with a little bit of history this week in facing his former team. Forbath appeared in seven games for the New Orleans Saints in 2015, converting 100 percent of his field goals and 11 of 14 extra point attempts (for an unusually low 78.6 percent conversion rate). His accomplishments went largely unnoticed.
Forbath won the starting job out of camp in 2016 for the New Orleans Saints, but was cut just days later in favor of rookie Wil Lutz, who remains New Orleans’ kicker. Forbath latched on with the Vikingslater in the 2016 season, where he’s found a lasting role as Minnesota’s kicker. No kick will be more important in his time in Minneapolis than those that come Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Any type of kick now going forward is a pressure kick,” Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “It’s a big kick; you need to have the team’s trust.”
Pressure? What pressure?
“It’s a football game for me,” Forbath said. “Same kicks. Kicks aren’t worth more or less just because it’s the playoffs.”
Forbath’s confidence is justified. He’s currently the eighth most-accurate kicker in NFL history with a field goal percentage of 85.926. He’s also encountered some struggles in a season in which he’s recorded a career-high in attempts (38), but has missed six of those for a field goal percentage of 84.2.
Then again, Minnesota has seen a perfect percentage melt under playoff pressure. For the Vikings‘ sake, they’ll be hoping the wide-left trifecta isn’t completed this weekend.